Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Turn The Page

"I'm stricken by the wonder of it all: the everythingness of everything, in cahoots with the everythingness of everything else" - Diane Ackerman

This time of year usually means reflecting on the past 365 days and looking ahead to the next 365...you know, like making goals.Like trying to figure out how you're going to get faster while not changing one thing in your training. Of course, anyway you look at it, my running is a very loose interpretation of training. My daily early morning slog pace IS my racing pace. When I pick up a running magazine and they start talking about tempo runs, fartlek, pickups, etc., my eyes quickly glaze over and I go to the next article which is usually about something like eating chia seeds and mango paste to become a better runner. And then, my friends, I'm done for the night. Ok, back to reflecting.

The boring numbers don't tell a story. They say I ran 1370 miles. For me, that doesn't sound like a big Whoop, but I'm proud of every mile I put in. Back in the 80's (the year, not the temperature), I put in 4-5 years of 3000+ miles, which was a big Whoop. Hardly missed more than a day a week running back then. Now, Strava says I ran 190 times last year. That's a little more than every other day. It also says I ran 303 hours...that averages 1 hour and 35 minutes a run. That impresses me the most...of course some of those runs were 9+ hours which skews the average, but more on that in a bit.

I love trail running and have transitioned at least half of my miles to the dusty, muddy, and mostly hilly trails. Can't say how much elevation I've climbed up, but I do know that for some twisted reason, for all the complaining about hills I do, I seem to seek them out. There's nothing like getting (somehow) to the top of a long steep climb with hands on your knees, your lungs on the ground, quads completely shot, thinking "Now...that...was...great"! However, when going up these hills, I feel like a fully loaded 18 wheeler lumbering up the hill with my hazards on. Whatever!

I "ran" several races this year. I did one road marathon, 4 trail 50k's, a 3-day, 53 Mile Stage Trail Race, and numerous long trail races thanks to the Southeastern Trail Series. Somehow, despite more trips up the Yellow/White Connector than I want to remember, I managed to come in first in the Grand Master's Division of the 7-race Series. As my very good friend, Bill Tucker, likes to say "You don't have to get faster. You just have to get older". David Tosch was the Race Director of the Series, and I swear, he's got a part of his mind that is just plain twisted. Despite his beloved Y/W Connector, there were some "trails" that were merely flags placed arbitrarily in the woods or over leaf-covered rocks. Then there were the downhills on the Blue or White Trails where I could swear all he did was roll a beer keg down the mountain and said "There's my trail!".

I made many new friends and renewed some old ones through the evolution of BUTS (the Birmingham Ultra Trail Society). We began this year as just a bunch of guys and gals that wanted company to run trails with and BOOM! The idea exploded and we now have a slew (I think that means probably a couple of hundred) of new trail runners. Many of these folks came over from the Birmingham Track Club. I've been a member of the BTC since I began running almost 36 years ago, and have watched it grow from a bunch of guys and gals that wanted company to run on the roads with (sound familiar?). The BTC is 1000+ members strong and now I doubt I know 10% of them. When I see race results, whereas I used to know everybody, now, I might as well be looking at results from Tulsa, or Boise, or Tampa. But, we're all comrades in this great sport.

I ran in Boston 2 weeks after the '13 Marathon. It was surreal to run part of the course and cross the finish line so soon after the horror that so quickly marred our sport. Boston will always be very special to me, and that special place will always have a dark shadow that we'll never shake. Definitely the worst part of my '13 running reflections.

I ran mostly alone, but I also ran with many folks that I am more than proud to call friends, some old, some new. I ran with my son to a lighthouse at Cape Cod and ran out of water, and I  ran by myself for hours at Oak Mountain and ran out of water. My favorite runs were any of the many runs I had with my "lost brother" Moha. A better friend nobody could ever want on the trails, roads, or just about anywhere. We've run together strong and we've run together pretty wimpy, but we run together. Several times, 30 miles is just a funfest for us. A full day funfest, but a funfest nevertheless. 

So, 2013 comes to a close, but that's all. 2014 is rarin' to go, full of surprises. You can have plans if you want, but life is full of sharp left turns. Try to roll with them. I'll lace up my Hokas and see what the next run has in store. I hope you all have a good new year, filled with unexpected, but certainly, good memories.

I'll see you on the 2014 roads - AL

"One child lost is too many...One child saved can change the world"


Unknown said...

What an amazing year you had, Al! You are such an inspiration - I love seeing you at all the races with a smile on while I'm more often than not bitching and moaning. I'm happy we've gotten to run together so much, and I look forward to many more races in 2014! - Tanya

Al D. said...

Thanks Tanya. Awfully nice words. I'm excited about your goals for this year. You're such an interesting friend to know. Keep up the blogging, photography, and of course, the ever expanding limits of your running.